The Idol of Liberty

Statue of LibertyWe all value and desire liberty.

Yet just as with any desire or longing, when it is divorced from God, liberty can become a great danger and even an idol. First, liberty can become dangerous when we seek it above God.

I recently heard a conservative radio talk-show host say that mankind’s greatest desire is liberty. But this is not true. Most people prefer security over liberty and will sacrifice all sorts of liberties for the sake of peace, safety, and comfort. Liberty is the luxury of the secure (see The Subversion of Christianity, p. 168).

As soon as we begin to place our desire for liberty above our desire for God, the goal of liberty becomes our master. We become slaves of liberty. And liberty, as a goal and cause in itself, becomes a terrible taskmaster, sending people to their death, and exacting horrific crimes on people and nations which are viewed as obstructing our liberty.

We go to war in the name of liberating people from dictators, and frequently, the new leaders placed in power are just as corrupt and destructive as those which were removed. One group’s quest for freedom will often lead them to kill, enslave, and destroy countless others who are viewed as standing in the way of that group’s liberty and freedom.

Take any war, any struggle, or any fight by any nation or any group of people in the history of the world, in which their goal was liberty and freedom, and you will find countless atrocities, murders, and crimes, all committed in the name of liberty.

It is true what Madame Roland said in 1793 when she was executed during the French Revolution. On the way to the guillotine, Madame Roland passed a large statue of the goddess Liberty (the same goddess portrayed by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor), and spoke these famous words: “O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

It is ironic that the Statue of Liberty, as the primary symbol of liberty in the United States, is a pagan goddess. I fear that in our American quest for liberty, we have far too often followed a false goddess, rather than the true source of our freedom and liberty, Jesus Christ.

[This post is part of a series called "Give Up Your Rights" which will form a chapter in my forthcoming book, Close Your Church for Good.]



Comments

  1. Leslie MacPherson on Facebook says

    As a Christian, I agree that my first reliance must always be on God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not on the desire for liberty, security, or comfort. But the Statue of Liberty was a beautiful gift of friendship to the United States, from France, and has inspired countless numbers of immigrants as they approached their new lives. I feel that to throw around terms such as “pagan goddess” is harmful to people’s perceptions of Christians, and, far more seriously, of Jesus, himself. In trying to imitate Christ, it seems that we need to be moderate and non-judgmental.

    • says

      Leslie,

      Yes, it was a great gift, and has inspired many people to live for the values and benefits of liberty that is offered in the United States.

      I don’t really have any problem with it being a pagan goddess. Maybe I should have been a little clearer or softer in the tone of my post. Much of the symbols and rituals in Christianity have pagan roots, and I believe that they have been redeemed by Jesus, in a similar fashion as we.

  2. Clive Clifton says

    Liberty is a kin to freedom and what we term as human rights.

    To obtain any of these things we firstly have to give the idea up of having them so we then can receive them, once we have received them we have to give them up so others may receive them.

    God had liberty, freedom and rights but He loved so much he gave them all away and became as a slave, as nothing, so we might have them to do with the same.

    This Friday we remember this love as it hung on a tree for you and for me.

    Love Clive

  3. says

    I think it was Victor Frankl who suggested that the American Statue of Liberty in New York be accompanied by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

    I totally agree that liberty is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. One core principle in the US is that each individual should be able to decide what the end of liberty is: material wealth, societal peace and prosperity, obedience to God, etc. The cool part is that America is an open market for purpose. An individual can subscribe to any purpose they wish, as long as that purpose doesn’t impinge on the life, liberty, or legal rights of another individual.

    If believers in the US really leveraged their liberty and lived according to God’s eternal purpose, I wonder if more Americans would lay down their treasures and follow Jesus?

    • says

      Joel,

      Yes, the crucial element to our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is that they not impinge on the same rights of others. This is where our society has gotten off track. They forget about the “others” part of the bargain.

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